Remarks by CSO Gen. Chance Saltzman at the Australian Air and Space Conference

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  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Introduction: Group Captain Sleeman:

We are delighted and honored to be joined by General Chance Saltzman, the United States Space Force Chief of Space Operations to deliver the keynote address. General Saltzman is a distinguished career which encompasses a broad array of technical, operational and command appointments.

General Saltzman has deep expertise in strategic missile space operations.

This is complemented by high level academic studies and fellowships.

He's the chief of the world's first and largest space force and the space adviser on the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. He's a champion for the rules-based order in space and a close partner for all of us who work in the space domain.

General Saltzman, we are honored and delighted to have you in Australia. And I invite you to address the conference.


General Chance Saltzman:

Well, keep the applause going makes it easier for me to transition. Thank you. Good day mates.

This is my first time in Australia. And I must say it's fair dinkum amazing.

In fact, after my Brekky I wanted to chuck a sickie and grab the mozzie spray and head of the bush.

But the blokes on the team were running around like a headless chicken said I’m rude to sit in the bush like a bludger.


My sincerest apologies if I got any of that wrong.


I must admit as an American, my Canadian is passable.

My British is getting better, but I still need some work on my Australian.

So, needless to say, I'm extremely excited to be here.

And I'd like to begin my remarks by first acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging. I extend that respect to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples here today.

Group Captain Sleeman, thank you for that kind introduction.

Thank you were making some stuff up there.

It sounds far better than reality.

But it's an honor to be recognized by a Sleeman.

Let me take you back just a few short years ago, there was another Australian named Sleeman … Air Commodore Sleeman. Sleaze, where are you? Raise your hand so everybody can make fun of you! He’s somewhere in here.

Sleaze and I, in 2020, were stationed together at the CAOC, when I was the Deputy of Air Forces Central Command. 2020 was a pretty dangerous and dynamic time in the Middle East.

He was a terrific Airman, leader and wingman, and he served as a shining example of coalition partnership.

So, it's great to see you again, my friend, and I think it just goes to show how tight this relationship is between the U.S. and Australia.

I'd also like to thank the Air and Space Power Center for putting on this forum.

It's been my experience, both home and abroad, that these events are critical, because this is where our most important conversations happen.

Just talking to Sir Rich, we get the chance to stop and think about what it means to be an air and spacepower, be a coalition and work together.

And those kinds of collaborations in the margins of these conferences, I think, are just as vital.

So, thank you so much for putting that together. I'm really looking forward to these conversations.

Yesterday, May 8, was it was a very important anniversary for the U.S., Australia and allies around the world.

As you remember, Victory in Europe Day is also known as VE Day, and it celebrates the unconditional surrender of the Nazi Germany military to the Allied forces in 1945.

Now the news met with spontaneous celebrations around the world … nowhere more so than here in Australia, where, by 11 o'clock that night, some 50,000 Aussies were at Kings Cross singing and dancing in the streets.

A few months later, of course, the war would come to an end in the Pacific.

Thanks to the strength of the partnerships with freedom loving nations around the world, the U.S., Australia and our Allies secured an end to World War II.

Yesterday I had a chance to… it was just a real honor to visit the Australian War Memorial, where I was reminded that our partnerships extends back further than World War II.

A great example of the enduring bond between our nations dates to the famous battle of Hamel in 1918.

And as I learned, Hamel was a successful attack by Australian Army and U.S. Army infantry, supported by British tanks, against German positions in and around the town of Le Hamel in northern France during World War I.

The attack was planned and commanded by Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, the brilliant commander of the Australian Corps and many of the tactics he developed, like the use of combined arms, changed the face of warfare across the globe.

Sir Monash’s innovative strategy had a transformative impact on military strategy and warfare – maximizing the strength of each branch of the military while compensating for their weaknesses, resulting in a more effective and versatile fighting force.

The general saw the value of partners. See, this was the first time in history that U.S. Army troops were commanded operationally by non-American officers. Apparently, he encouraged the Americans by brilliantly scheduling the battle to start on July 4th.

And at the end of the war, Sir Monash said, “Success is not measured by how high you climb, but by how many people you bring with you.” I can think of no better vision of allies and partners than this, especially in this day of an era of Great Power Competition.

I titled my speech today, “Deterrence Down Under” because the U.S. and Australia share a strong interest in maintaining freedom and peaceful commerce in the Pacific and around the globe – freedom of navigation, overflight, other lawful uses of sea … and now space – all contribute to successful deterrence in the region and around the globe.

Today, the space domain is radically different than when I started flying satellites decades ago.

And honestly, it's radically different than even just four years ago when the U.S. Space Force was established.

It has become congested because of more launches, more satellites, more debris and more players in the space domain.

And it has become contested, because we see an incredibly sophisticated array of threats in and to the domain.

China, for example, as a new sensor-shooter kill web that creates an unacceptable risk to our forward deployed forces and allies, particularly here in the Pacific.

This rising congestion and competition in the domain has led to a growing risk to our continued access to and operations within space.

And to address this risk the U.S. Space Force has been charged with the task of securing the space domain … to prepare ourselves to control the space domain with force, if necessary, as part of a joint force, even a coalition force, while also protecting the security and prosperity that all our nations derive from space.

Now more than ever, joint and coalition force operations depend on space capabilities and protection from space-enabled attacks … and thus, our space forces are an integral part of the joint coalition team.

The Space Force mission statement – “to secure our nation's interests in, from and to space” clearly reflects our purpose and identity as Guardians.

This new mission statement is also the first step in creating what I call the foundation service framework; defining the “why” of the Space Force. It helps clarify what we have been tasked to do each and every day.

It is also it also touches on the core functions of the Space Force.

The core functions are what a service does. Every military service, regardless of the domain, must field forces capable of three core operational activities: access to the domain, control the domain and exploit the domain.

For the Space Force, space superiority is the first core function, and it is the “in space” aspect of the mission statement.

A service must be able to control its domain in order to be able to exploit the advantages it offers.

It is the ability to contest and when necessary, control the space domain at a time and place of our choosing, protect our space capabilities and deny an adversary access to theirs.

This is true for all services.

Each service must be able to control its domain: air superiority, sea control, land dominance … now space superiority.

The ability to contest a domain with military force is the formative purpose of any service.

Once the service has control of its domain, it can then perform other missions.

For example, as this audience well knows, once the Air Force has control of the air domain, it can then perform close air support, interdiction, ISR, mobility.

For the Space Force, when we exploit the domain, we provide global mission operations.

This is our second core function, or the “from space” aspect we talked about in the mission statement.

Global Mission Operations enable joint coalition forces to integrate functions across all domains on a global scale.

This is an important distinction inside the U.S. Department of Defense. Only the U.S. Space Force can provide the truly worldwide capabilities our forces absolutely require as they defend U.S., and allied interests around the world.

Without satellite communication, without precision navigation and timing, provided by the U.S. Space Force, our joint force is unable to project power effectively.

Finally, a service must be able to access its domain especially during a conflict.

The ability to get to the domain and leverage all the domains in pursuit of military objectives is a prerequisite to success.

Whether we call this deployment, sortie generation, fleet operations, it is crucial that we're able to do it, do it effectively and do it properly.

Taken together, the mission statement and our core functions provide our Guardians with a purpose and a common understanding of our overall strategy.

It allows us, as a service, to ensure the safety, stability, security and even long-term sustainability of the domain for all who wish to use it.

The “how” behind the foundational service framework is rooted in our theory of success, called Competitive Endurance.

A Theory of Success provides a service with shared purpose, and a common understanding of overall strategy towards the objective.

It defines organizing principles; it clarifies the assumptions; it helps identify the equipment needed, the training needed, to be effective.

A Theory of Success gives you something to point to … a guiding light, a true north, if you will.

That says this is what matters most for the mission we are charged to perform.

A Theory of Success is your answer to how your service plans to execute its missions.

Without such a theory, the service cannot effectively and efficiently make all the necessary decisions and perform the key activities that must be accomplished to achieve the mission.

In short, a Theory of Success provides an answer to the question of “how” to get the mission done.

That Theory of Success informs your future concepts, which informs requirements and technology investments, which become procured systems organized into forces where we can do the work of tactics. And this leads us back to the Space Force and our need for a Theory of Success to get the foundational strategy right.

For the U.S. Space Force, a Theory of Success is necessary to orchestrate our efforts in pursuit of space superiority.

Competitive Endurance, in two words, encapsulate our approach, as it aims to ensure our ability to achieve space superiority when necessary while maintaining the safety, security stability and long-term sustainability of the space domain.

The approach has three core tenants: First, avoid operational surprise. Second, deny first mover advantage in space. And third, responsible counterspace campaigning.

Now, avoiding operational surprise in space requires comprehensive and actionable space domain awareness.

And by that, I mean the ability to make sure we understand what's happening in space and identify when behaviors become irresponsible, even hostile.

This requires an enhanced level of space domain awareness.

So, we are investing in new sensors, advanced data management, decision support tools and most importantly, stronger partnerships with allies around the world.

We need to have more persistent sensor coverage to fully see our domain, so we need to work together to broaden our lens.

Space, in some cases, has analogies to undersea warfare. You get a track on an object and then you have to propagate it out a little bit, to predict where maybe in the future … and in some cases, allocate other sensors to try to regain the track.

Now orbital mechanics, being what they are, we tend to be pretty good about predicting and orbiting objects location.

But that only goes so far when you're dealing with an adversary intentionally trying to deny orbital prediction efforts.

So, we're going to need to up our game – and our capabilities need to orient towards the fact that threat satellites are going to maneuver, obscure and deceive in an attempt to break tracks.

Next, we need to alter the space attack calculus that exists today.

With just a handful of destructive events, there can be a significant impact on missions performed by satellites.

The outsize benefits of attack invite a preemptive first strike on orbit.

It is an imperative that we negate this first mover advantage and one way we do this is to proliferate our constellations.

What if instead of a few satellites performing a mission, we have hundreds even thousands.

This would significantly raise the level of destruction needed to deny in mission space, the attack calculus changes and the benefits of a first strike are negated.

Finally, Space Forces must be able to deny an adversary the ability to use space enabled targeting against friendly forces.

Therefore, we must prepare to achieve space superiority via responsible counterspace campaigning.

And I emphasize the word responsible counterspace because space is a little different than the other domains.

In the air, land and sea domain, destruction of an asset does not have lasting effect – it does in space.

And commercial and civil entities can avoid, or at least attempt to avoid, hostile areas.

In fact, if you look at the picture of Ukraine, it won't surprise any of you.

You'll see very little commercial, if any, air traffic. They're all trying to avoid that Ukrainian airspace.

This just isn't an option in space.

That means if a war translates into space, we would have to fight in and among commercial and civil third parties. And if destructive engagements occur, the debris will remain hazardous to the surviving assets long after the conflict subsides.

Collectively, this means our strategy should focus on confronting Chinese and Russian malign activity in the domain through protracted day to day competition, which is a preferable state, compared to crisis or conflict.

Furthermore, we must build capabilities that can deny and degrade adversary capabilities, but in ways that avoid the creation of long-lasting hazards.

Overall, our goal is perpetual competition, locked in a battle for stability in the domain, neither driving our adversaries towards disrupting the space domain nor towards desperation to take irresponsible activities.

That is the essence of competition.

That means orienting ourselves around the idea that there is no end state.

There is no victory in space.

Because if you do it right, you never fight.

At its core, Competitive Endurance is about long-term deterrence.

And as you all are intimately aware, deterrence is the cornerstone of our collective security policies.

Like minded nations like ours, like those here, are committed to peace, and the stability and security that it brings.

We are not about reacting to threats; we are about dissuading potential adversaries, instilling caution in their ambitions and ensuring that the cost of aggression far outweighs any perceived benefit.

In your National Defence Strategy, released just weeks ago, one of the main goals is to “avoid the highest level of strategic risks we now face as a nation, because strategically, we may have already entered a decisive period for the Indo Pacific.”

So, for me, Deterrence Down Under refers to the complementary efforts of both our nations to protect and preserve access to all domains.

One of the foundations of Deterrence Down Under is AUKUS, the trilateral security pact in the Indo Pacific to counteract the PRC’s aggression in the region.

It represents a quantum leap in our collective capabilities, particularly in the realm of defense technology.

And while most people are familiar with Pillar One – the sharing of nuclear propulsion technology – Pillar Two is equally important, especially for the space domain.

It centers on the sharing of computer and cyber technology, hypersonic and counter hypersonic technologies and advanced radar capabilities … with the aim of improving joint capabilities and interoperability.

A highlight of these efforts occurred back in September when the U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia and the United Kingdom on the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability.

This 24/7 all-weather capability will increase our shared ability to detect, track, identify and characterize objects in deep space.

And by expanding our ability to monitor and detect potentially hostile actions in space, it allows us to avoid operational surprise, and if necessary, take defensive action.

DARC is already a great example of the types of collaborative efforts that allow all of us to expand beyond what individual nations could achieve alone in one of the most critical domains for our future security.

But Deterrence Down Under is more than just AUKUS and DARC.

Space cooperation will strengthen integrated deterrence because, I believe, we are committed to working together in the space domain, and the sum will truly be greater than any individual contribution.

And to that end, I want to highlight two areas that the U.S. and Australia are leading the way in space cooperation.

First, I would point to the enhanced space cooperation agreement that U.S. Space Command, and the Australian Defence Space Command signed.

This framework deepens military collaboration in the space domain and continues to improve coordination and interoperability to maintain freedom of action and space; optimized resources; enhance mission assurance and resilience. By focusing on force development, combined training and exercises, development and alignment of the space operational disciplines, reciprocal academic and professional education opportunities, modernization, future capabilities development and enhanced information sharing, this agreement strengthens our shared ability to compete and contest in the space domain.

Another good example is the Combined Space Operations Initiative.

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. and Australia are founding members of this critical initiative – an effort formed 10 years ago around a vision of improving cooperation, coordination and interoperability to sustain of freedom of action in space.

At its core, CSpO helps us integrate military space power into the multi-domain global operations we need in order to deter aggression, defend national interests and, when necessary, defeat threats.

And it is working.

What started out as four member nations has grown to 10 members, all with a shared commitment to a rules-based international order centered around responsible behavior in space.

The final initiative to Deterrence Down Under that I want to talk about is security classification reform.

I think one of the biggest barriers to integration has been our outdated classification policies.

Now to mitigate that barrier earlier this year, the U.S. released an updated classification policy, one that enables us to fundamentally rethink the way we approach classification of space systems and the effects they generate.

This policy expands the access to information within the U.S. government and reduces barriers to space integration with allies, partners, commercial space actors.

I truly believe this is the most significant change in space classification policy in 20 years.

It will allow us to share more information, more quickly, with more stakeholders, to better address the challenges in today's competitive space environment.

All of these initiatives add to the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Australia, and they bolster our shared defensive capabilities by sending a clear message to potential adversaries.

Any attempt to undermine the security and stability of the region will be met with unwavering resolve. A combined result we have demonstrated in the past and one we will not hesitate to show in the future.

Today, we stand at a pivotal moment in history, where the winds of change are reshaping the global landscape, a landscape that extends further and further into the space domain.

In this era of uncertainty and dynamic geopolitical shifts, the alliance between the U.S. and Australia emerges not just as a bulwark against threats, but as a beacon of stability, progress and shared values.

Let me end with one final quote from General Monash. “The best leaders,” he said, “know the importance of collaboration and teamwork.”

And looking around this room, I'm proud to say that some of those best leaders are right here, working together to advance of our shared values here Down Under and to the far reaches of space.

I'm looking forward to continuing our great work, and I'm also looking forward to your questions.

So, let me just say, Semper Supra!

Thank you.